Category Archive: Comic Review

Feb 04 2015

The Silence of Our Friends – Mark Long & Jim Demonakos

Cej did a review of this comic here, and does a fine job of it, so I don’t want to go over the same points too much. Like Cej, I felt the ending was rushed and Nate Powell’s work is better here then other places I’ve seen.  I will say that I picked up on the blind character earlier even if not right away and didn’t feel that Long (the father character, not the author) struggled so much with telling the truth as much as trying to get someone to listen. In any event, you should read this very fine comic to see if you agree with one, both, or none of our takes on the work as it is an insightful piece of history.  

Feb 03 2015

March: Book One – Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell

The Georgian Democrat recounts his personal involvement with the civil right’s movement in this first of three installments. The story is definitely interesting and inspiring as to how a poor black boy could rise above the injustice around him and help pave the way for greater freedom and inclusion for more Americans. He is truly a great American. I will criticize that I would rather read an account of the movement in general rather than “Bob” Lewis’s bio and, as I seem to always complain about, I found it more of an illustrated account when I would rather see a comic. 

Jan 30 2015

Thoreau at Walden – John Porcellino

Using the words of Henry David Thoreau, Porcellino provides extremely simple (and very elegant and appropriate) art, to tell some of the highlights of Walden Pond. I have to say that I am NOT a fan of Thoreau, but I am a fan of comics and this series by the Center for Cartoon Studies has had some great stuff. I’m not going to claim that this work has sold me on HDT, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as interested in his work as this comic has made me. Much better to use this as an intro to the author than anything my high school did, but then again, my high school English teacher failed every exam I took, possibly because I brought up that Thoreau used to send his laundry home for his mom to clean (something also left out here).

Jan 28 2015

The Annihilation event: Annihilation: Conquest Book One

Picking up slightly before the Nova book ends, the reader is presented with a Dirty Dozen/Suicide Squad set up in order to free the Kree from a mechanical infection. The focus is on the former superhero Star-Lord, present day normal human Peter Quill, who was instrumental in helping to resist Annihilus, but is suffering horrible guilt over his time as a superhero, which his war experience apparently wasn’t enough to errase. His team is made up of some of the dumbest characters you have totally forgotten about if you even ever heard of them and they are made awesome! Unfortunately, there is also a section about Quasar/Captain Marvel and her girlfriend Moondragon and something about going to see Yoda and train to avoid the dark side of the force…ok maybe not exactly, although I was too bored to figure out what was actually happening, and when Quasar is fighting the Amazo rip-off and riding a dragon into battle to find Kree Jesus–whatever. 

Jan 23 2015

The Annihilation event: Nova (vol 1): Annihilation – Conquest

More on the aftermath of the Annihilation Wave (and it will get to the point that we will have more for the after than the during, which is disappointing). The last surviver of the galactic police force tries to deal with picking up the pieces and getting back to policing, but he is one and the backlog of problems that were ignored during wartime are many. Having a bit of a breakdown, Nova goes back to Earth only to learn that petty squabbles are all that occupies people (ie The Civil War). This is a rather good story dealing with PTS and the reality that once you have seen terrible things you have a very difficult time deling with the stupidity that others feel are important. This is also a fun dig at the fact that Marvel does some very stupid things that they pretend are important. Sadly, the second part isn’t very interesting to me as–for all practical purposes–the Borg are taking over the Kree and want Nova too. I couldn’t get into it. PS If a character has a scar–especially if you talk about it in the comic–be sure to draw it

Jan 17 2015

Injustice: Gods Among Us (vol 1) – Tom Taylor

Apparently, this is the story that leads up to the game (except that there are characters in the game that are dead in the comic, so go figure). The basic plot is that a super villain event triggers super extreme reactions among the super hero community and chaos ensues. It is a rather typical “dark” storyline wherein the heroes take over in the name of justice–which is just as typically flawed, but that never stops people from writing/reading them. The bottom line is that the story isn’t bad and there are some fun parts (e.g., the interaction between Green Arrow and Harely Quinn), but there is nothing that is new here. 

Jan 16 2015

The Annihilation event: Annihilation Book Three

Why did Paul get the hard cover of this trade? Regardless, I glad he lent it to me. This collection is set up the opposite of the first two in that it starts out very strong before it gets boring. From the very beginning we are deep in the Annihilation Wave as various races and beings (mainly Kree) are attempting to slow the destruction of Annihilus and his Negative Zone troops (if you didn’t know this by now, it’s because you aren’t going to be reading the series. Besides, just look at the cover.). It is very action packed and exciting; however, the second half of the book was far too rushed, unbelievable (based on earlier events, not because I believe in this type of sci-fi), and left an unsatisfying “conclusion” turning the second half of the book into mediocre aftermath tales. The idea that the Negative Zone is invading because they actually feel they are being destroyed by our universe (well, some of them do) is a great angle and not utilized. Also, if cosmic energy is part of Annihilus’s plan, how come he didn’t have a means of using it on his own? Seems like a major invasion flaw to allow for a lucky alliance to fill in the gap for the key part of your objective. Then again, how many wars did we fight of late where we seemed to be missing vital strategic elements?

Jan 15 2015

Crater XV – Kevin Cannon

It seems I never reviewed Far Arden (something that (I hope) will be rectified before you see this), which is s shame as I enjoyed that short (in stature) but thick, comic. As with the first book, this sequel should not be misunderstood. Just because it has cute art–with stage directions as sound effects–and is about a larger than life, heavy drinking, hard fighting, heroic Canadian orphan (who was both a government man and a pirate), does not mean that Cannon is attempting to tell some sort of feel good story. The plot, which is intricate, involving various faux Canadian government agencies that maneuver with foreign powers, space quests, piracy, lost loves, coming to terms with your past/future/destiny/choices/mistakes, and a whole lot of fighting. It’s a bittersweet tale, much like the last one, and I enjoyed it. 

Jan 13 2015

The Silver Six – AJ Lieberman

For a kid’s story, it starts with the murder of a bunch of families by a corrupt energy company. Eventually, Phoebe, her robot pal, and 5 other orphans band together to discover the truth behind what happened and fight to set things right. It’s not a bad story, although because it is for kids there isn’t a whole lot done in terms of characterization other than the smart guy wears glasses and the the brown kid is brown (Darren Rawlings’ art is a great deal of awesome, though). I do like the empowering nature of the tale and it has a couple of minor twists to help it along. 

Jan 12 2015

The Plain Janes – Cecil Castellucci

I loved this comic! Well, until it just randomly stopped. It’s a great story about a girl that is moved out of the city after a bombing which puts a boy into a coma. She reinvents herself and joins up with a group of outcast girls, all named Jane, and forms a group dedicated to spreading random acts of art: PLAIN-People Loving Art In Neighborhoods (a group I would love to serve if it only could exist). Lots of interesting characters and solid writing. However, the comic just comes to an end, perhaps with the idea of another or continuing issues, but I realize that Minx comics is an imprint of DC, apparently trying to cash in on the girl market that they have shunned for so long, so I guess it is as dead as all the other titles I read from Minx. Pity, the world is small for it.

Jan 11 2015

Friends With Boys – Faith Erin Hicks

I first, knowingly, heard of Hicks by reading a short work of her’s in an Adventure Time comic, which wasn’t anything super special, but I did enjoy this, longer, work. It focuses on Maggie, who, after being home schooled like her three older brothers, is off to high school and all the horrors that it involves. There she, for the first time, has the opportunity to make friends and see the social chaos that is public school, made all the more difficult due her mother’s unexplained leaving. Although I like the art, does everyone in high school have to be beautiful? I never met a beautiful high schooler. It is a fun story and I suspect there is room–but uncertain about the will–for a sequel, that I would like to see. Oh! Did I mention that Maggie is haunted? 

Jan 08 2015

The Punisher (vol 6): Barracuda – Garth Ennis

Largely an exercise in class differences. Lower class badass and black guy, Barracuda, is sent to take out the vigilante The Punisher after he starts to interfere with the lifestyle of the rich and famous a la Enron situation. I do not like how easy it is for the giant and famous Castle to blend into the background, or how micromanaging the bad guy Harry is (just didn’t seem to make sense), or how blacks are depicted as so low class compared to whites, or how the only women depicted are sluts, or how Ennis can possible think that a person can undergo gang rape sodomy and not have to go to the hospital. What does this say about Ennis as a person? 

Jan 05 2015

Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean – Sarah Stewart Taylor & Ben Towle

This isn’t so much a recounting of Earhart’s attempt to fly across the Atlantic, so much as it is a tale about a young girl with dreams of being a newspaper reporter–or rather, dreams of being something other than the era’s standard for women which is a stay at home wife/mother. Earhart is an inspiration to this girl as she was to many, and this sweetly depressing tale told in few words, with simply and lovingly rendered art with blue coloring, does a fine job relaying feelings and hopes. I can’t really recommend this as a book to teach younger readers about Earhart directly, but you do get a sense of the times, the person, and, well, you get to read a good story. To add to some of the sadness of this tale, I knew little about Earhart until she was mentioned in a Trail of Cthulhu adventure I ran, which is why I wanted to know more and ordered it from a library, and it looks like I am the first in 4 years to ever have checked the book out.

Jan 04 2015

Skim – Mariko & Jillian Tamaki

The magic of libraries is that you can find a book serendipitously and use their catalogue to order other books by the same people. That’s how a got this one after reading This One Summer, which I liked more, probably due to more experience in writing and art, as well as a more specific focus. In any event, this was still a good read and nicely drawn. It is about an Asian (at least part), 16-year old girl, “Skim”, and takes place over a period of time in her Catholic school in Canada. I don’t want to give too much away, which means I can’t say much of anything, but let me just write that it deals with much of what anyone faces growing up: finding out who you are personally and sexually, the fleeting nature of friendship, death, love, family–really just about everything, and that is all the more impressive in such a short comic. 

Jan 03 2015

Happy! – Grant Morrison

Nick is an ex-cop, assassin, alcoholic, jerk. Into his world of non-stop swearing, comes the imaginary friend, a blue talking horse, named Happy, that seeks Nick’s help in rescuing a little girl from a killer Santa. The work tried too hard to be raw and too hard to be cute and too hard to be a cop drama and too hard to be a redemption tale, and for all that too hard work it just isn’t very interesting.

Jan 02 2015

The Annihilation event: Annihilation Book Two

It’s a new year and I’m keeping the resolution of reviewing the Annihilation event. Once again the collection starts slow as the heralds of the planet eater, Galactus, are being hunted. The hunters are kind of stupid, but it is neat to get the heralds under one title. Why does the Annihilation Wave seek Galactus and his brood? That might be unimportant compared to the fact that two cosmic beings are now free and also seeking him. And what does the death worshiper Thanos have to do with all this? (We still won’t know that even after this collection.)

The best parts come in the second half of this trade as we follow the Superskrull as he attempts to defend the remains of the Skrull empire (haven’t they suffered enough?) by taking the battle to the enemy. I did feel this part was too fast as a character seems to shift in mentality far to quickly and others are not given the background to really make them of interest. The other part, while a bit of a mess through too many characters, is great fun as we follow the Kree, Ronan The Accuser, in his attempt to clear his name (of a crime he didn’t commit, yes cliched but it really works) and dish out justice in true Kree fascism. 

Jan 01 2015

Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics – edited by Chris Duffy

It’s been over 100 years since the start of the First World War, the war for civilization, the war to end all wars, the Great War, and I think it is important to keep the memory alive. This comic adaptation of (mostly) poetry based on World War I is a good start. Sadly, I did not enjoy this as much as I had hoped for, not that this is particularly a topic of enjoyment, but collected work such as these, despite attempts of unification, often fall short of unified feeling and look. I also have to say that I don’t care much for poetry (I know that makes me a bad person), so I was already starting at a loss. Still, this is a ok way to introduce people, most likely younger people, to the horrors and tragedies of the so-called great war, despite that it leaves off any real context for the war itself. 

 

Dec 29 2014

Jim Henson’s Tale of Sand as realized by Ramon K. Perez

I have no idea why this lost screenplay by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl was never actualize as a movie. Scratch that. Of course I do. The movie is about a man named Mac who for no expressible reason is send forth into the desert to complete a race of sorts wherein he is hunted and has to survive the natural elements and the very unnatural elements that a surreal desert world throws against him. Perhaps more is made clear in the screenplay itself but that is unlikely, as a beautiful blonde bride and a swarthy one eyed devil slash aristocrat (I guess that’s really the same thing) throw obstacles in his way. Much of what occurs makes little sense, and a lot of what occurs may not play well to modern sensibility, all adding to an understanding of why this movie could never– but really should, as in right now– be made. I enjoyed it, and would love to see it on the big screen, but realistically this may be as close as I will get. 

Dec 26 2014

Map of Days – Robert Hunter

This is a beautifully illustrated, short (but tall in page size) book about a boy who discovers a secret world hidden by his grandfather and the consequences that change the world. Wood-cut and arabesque images move the story along much more than the text does, yet together create an vivid effect that artists above writers will love. 

Dec 25 2014

Jesus Hates Zombies: Yea, Though I Walk… & A Jurassic Kinda Life – Stephen Lindsay

This first collection of Jesus Hates Zombies stories, featuring Lincoln Hates Werewolves, is a pretty frenetic, funny, and dark tale of, yes, Jesus fighting zombies, and I greatly enjoyed it. The problems are that Lindsay can’t seem to hold an artists and while I loved Daniel Thollin’s work, I didn’t care for the rest, and the second collection (wherein Jesus is fighting zombies throughout time) doesn’t have the same enjoyable feel. Perhaps it is difficult to keep a tale going that revolves around a very specific, jokey, theme. 

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